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Friday, Oct 20, 2017
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Sheepshead, trout best bets along South Shore

The weather plays a big part in our ability to catch fish. And that is so true this month. Roller coaster temperatures and wind have been the determining factors. South Shore has come out on the positive side of the equation, and the bite has been good, to say the least. Our most consistent bite has been trout in the lower slot range of 15 to 20 inches and sheepshead ranging from less than a pound to well over two. I've also had reports of snook up to 30 inches and a respectable showing of redfish in the slot range of 18 to 27 inches. We've been catching trout from Bishop Harbor north to the Apollo Beach area. One good tactic for catching these fish is to drift a patchy grass flat, casting your favored artificial bait. One of mine is gold, paddle-tale plastic bait from DOA.
In clear water use light colors and in dark water use darker-colored baits. This seems to do the trick for me. If you're fishing with live bait, try working large, patchy grass areas. Approach the area quietly and let the wind help move you along. Once you get to the area, set your anchor and fish until you are ready to move, then just pull up the anchor and let the wind blow you to the next spot. You will be surprised at how effective this is. Capt. Jason Prieto of Ruskin reported catching several large snook over the last two weeks fishing the Little Manatee River. The largest one he caught was 31 inches. Snook seem to like a nice big pilchard dropped in the deeper spots of the river. Remember that snook season is closed so every one of these fish you catch must be handled carefully and returned to the water. The other bright spot this week has been the appearance of sheepshead. I've seen schools at the mouth of the Little Manatee River south to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I use small, live shrimp for bait using a No. 2 hook. I set up in an area that has structure and just drop the bait over the side. I like doing this in deeper areas. Just drop your anchor on the outside edge and up-tide from structure. Be patient, and expect to use a lot of shrimp. Redfish action seems to be picking up. We've been catching reds on the outside edge of the grass flats that line the South Shore area. Low tide seems to be the best time to fish, when the fish tend to feed more or less as the water drops out of the flats. Anchor up close to the drop-off and be patient. Shrimp and greenbacks seem to be the bait of choice. Be safe out there.

Danny Guarino is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 956-2010 or shpoint@aol.com.
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